India has reportedly returned a pigeon to Pakistan after determining it isn’t a spy after all.
The pigeon which belonged to a Pakistani fisherman had flown into Indian territory. It has been returned “after authorities confirmed the pigeon was not a spy”. The dove crossed the contentious Kashmir border earlier this week.
No information was provided about where the bird was released or if it had reached its owner, Habibullah, who lives in a village near the contentious border — a heavily militarized zone between the two neighbors.
“It’s just an innocent bird,” Habibullah said on Friday.
Earlier this week, he had appealed to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the return of his bird.
“I appeal (to the) Indian Prime Minister to return my pigeon which crossed the border during a training session for an upcoming tournament,” said Habibullah.
Pigeon racing is a popular sport in villages along the border, where the birds are identified with markers such as stamps, paint and rings on their feet. There have been numerous instances where birds from either side are lost across the border
“We had to take the bird into our custody to probe if it was being used for spying,” a senior Indian border security official told Reuters on the condition of anonymity. He explained that this was standard procedure as border tensions remained high between the neighbors.
The pigeon was taken into custody after numbers inscribed on a ring on the bird’s leg were thought to be codes meant for groups operating in Indian-administered Kashmir which remains under lockdown for over 10 months now.
However, Habibullah said that the digits on the pigeon’s leg were his mobile phone number, which could be used to prove ownership in case the bird was lost.